Josue Jamlang

What: Spanish La Liga
Who: Real Madrid (2nd; 80 points) vs Valencia (2nd; 59 points)
When: Sunday 18th April, 2010, at 21:00 CET
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

No More Slip-ups

Having lost to Barcelona for the second time at the weekend, Real Madrid have effectively lost their hold on the lead in the La Liga standings. The defeat also put an end to the club’s impressive 100% win record at the Santiago Bernabeu, ensuring that Los Blancos will not even take the pride of setting a record this season, should their Catalan arch rivals continue to win.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have not stayed down however, and responded immediately with a win against Almeria in midweek to stay within touching distance of Barcelona. The victory showed the club’s character to recover from a massive setback in their title bid as well as the psychological blow of succumbing to a superior rival.

Although there is a gulf in class between Real Madrid and Valencia, Cristiano Ronaldo and co. will have to be in top form to overcome the dangerous attacking threat possessed by the dynamic Los Che duo of David Villa and David Silva. And with dropping points no longer an option as the season comes to an end, the Madrid giants will surely be up for the crunch tie.

Securing Champions League Qualification

Valencia have been struggling for consistent form recently, winning just four times in their last ten matches in all competitions. Having been knocked out of the Europa League by Atletico Madrid earlier in the month, the club are no longer competing to win any other competitions, but sitting in third in the La Liga standings, are in a great position to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Should they remain in the same spot at season’s end, Los Che will have improved their position in the league by three places from the previous campaign, and will benefit from the massive boost of top European football next year. But with Real Mallorca and Sevilla just seven and eight points away respectively, Valencia will be looking to give their all to secure their place in next year’s Champions League as soon as possible.

Motivation will certainly not be an issue in this match, as both sides battle to move closer to their different ambitions.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Racing Santander 0-2 Real Madrid (04/03; La Liga)
Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona (10/04; La Liga)
Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid (15/04; La Liga)

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Valencia (08/03; Europa League)
Real Mallorca 3-2 Valencia (11/04; La Liga)
Valencia 2-0 Athletic Bilbao (15/04; La Liga)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Kaka; Raul Albiol (Suspended); Pepe; Royston Drenthe; Raul

Valencia: Angel Dealbert; Miguel; David Navarro; Carlos Marchena

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Cristiano Ronaldo: Having produced a stellar first season so far, the memory of his crucial miss at the Camp Nou remains a daunting one for the former Manchester United star. Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking for revenge this time around, and should he be on top form, he could prove to be unplayable for Valencia.

Valencia – David Villa: Villa has not been talked about as much this season, what with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the mind-blowing performances of Lionel Messi. That is not to say that the 28-year-old striker is not in impressive form again in this campaign though, having bagged 27 goals already in only 39 matches. Although Valencia are a step behind in terms of quality, Villa will always provide a legitimate goal threat for Los Che.

Match prediction

With the gulf in quality between the two sides, and Real Madrid hell-bent on chasing down Barcelona, Los Blancos should prove to be too much for the inconsistent Valencia. But with David Villa and David Silva always dangerous for Los Che, Manuel Pellegrini’s side will not triumph without a proper fight. A 2-1 win for the Madrid outfit will likely be the result.


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